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Exploring subject positions and multiple temporalities through an Iranian migrant mother's family photograph albums

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In this article, I draw on a research study of one Iranian migrant mother's generation of selves through her material configuration of her personal photograph albums and through our verbal reading of her photographs. The research engages in a visual-material feminist ethnographic approach, and is informed by the work of Gillian Rose and the understanding that family photographs are a means by which women negotiate subject positions. In this article, I discuss an unexpected finding of my research, the significance of multiple temporalities in a migrant mother's production of selves. The photo album practices of the participant mother of this study, ‘Parvin’, depart from the common social convention of mothers arranging their photograph albums to chart family growth following the model of milestones occurring over linear developmental time. Parvin does not limit herself to linear developmental time, but rather she mixes up photographs in her post-migration family albums to generate multiple temporalities woven together by an enveloping ‘mixed’ time. Drawing on both Julia Kristeva and Homi Bhaba's theories of temporality and the subject, I suggest that Parvin produces subject positions for self and family through a continual interweaving of a multitude of pasts into the present and through a subsuming of milestones within cyclical family time. Further, I suggest that through her generation of multiple temporalities, Parvin produces the subject position of ‘accommodating mother’. Finally, I highlight the potential afforded by considering the temporal and the spatial together in studies of migrant identity.
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Keywords: Iran; Irán; identidad: posición de sujeto; identity; madres migrantes; migrant mothers; mixed time; multiple temporalities; photograph albums; subject position; temporalidades múltiples; tiempo mezclado; álbumes fotográficos

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Arts and Education, School of Education, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria,3125, Australia

Publication date: February 7, 2015

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